HC Deb 23 July 1974 vol 877 cc1285-6
13. Mr. Willey

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will appoint the Central Advisory Council for Education to advise him on the education of boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 16 years.

Mr. Prentice

I have no present intention to do so.

Mr. Willey

Is my right hon. Friend aware that I am discouraged to find that he has joined his immediate predecessors in flouting the spirit and letter of the Education Act? Apart from that, does he not feel that, now the school leaving age has been raised, this is an opportune time to supplement the Crowther and Newsom Reports with an embracing review of secondary education between the ages of 11 and 16?

Mr. Prentice

There are enough problems in secondary education which we have studied in a number of different ways. There is for example the question of the curriculum for those staying on further at school. I think that the best central focus for this is the Schools Council, which is doing an excellent job. This is a better way of doing it than asking the Advisory Council to make a report on it.

Mr. Marks

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the problems of this age group in schools is that they do not get a fair share of the teachers available and that there is far too high a concentration of teachers in the sixth form? Is he aware that 10 per cent. of the teach- ing groups in sixth forms consist of only one pupil? Is not this unfair to the remainder of the school? Will my right hon. Friend examine this problem?

Mr. Prentice

I should like to consider this and discuss it with my hon. Friend. Inevitably there is a different ratio in the sixth form. The main answer to this must lie in an improvement of teacher supply generally. I am glad to say that as at present advised we are expecting from the next school year an additional 20,000 teachers as against 100,000 extra pupils. That should lead to an improvement in the ratio. I am sure that my hon. Friend's point will be taken into account by local authorities.

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